For more help use this Bible Study method
Making Peace with the Body
by Karen Burkhart
Let’s talk about stretch marks. You know--those pesky squiggly white scars that make an unwelcomed appearance after rapid changes in weight? Yep, those. Well, I’ve got’em. Despite my best efforts to moisturize and control my weight gain during pregnancies, they still secured a starring role on my abdomen. Perhaps I wouldn’t be as bothered by them if they weren’t glistening atop the persistent pooch, but alas, there they be. The older I get, the less bothered I am by my tummy, but really, I’ve only ever learned to tolerate it. And, if I’m honest, toleration mostly looks like ignoring it completely or camouflaging it, so it doesn’t draw attention. You see, I’ve yet to make peace with my core du corps.
When I really think about it, it’s kind of messed up that I’m at odds with this part that performed such an important role in bringing my children into this world. It would probably make more sense to walk around with a big ole bullseye on it, announcing, “Looky here! I’m amazing!” Frankly, I don’t know what benefit I’d notice if I finally made peace with my tummy, but I’m guessing I might live with a little more confidence and vitality. My tummy itself might even privately benefit from some sunlight from time to time.
So, what does this all have to do with today’s Scripture? Well, today’s Scripture reminds us that Christians are part of the Body of Christ and that we are called to live at peace with and be thankful for its members: 'Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.’
It's not always easy to live at peace with other Body parts, let alone be thankful for them-- especially when their scars are so glaring. But, let’s be honest, living has stretched all of us and left marks. Even if it hadn’t, living at peace with our equal but opposite parts is challenge enough that requires intentionality to overcome. Consider the body builder who prefers working out his quadriceps but knows his body’s strength will be imbalanced if he doesn’t give equal time to his hamstrings. Likewise, in the Body of Christ, equal respect needs to be given to opposite parts like head and heart, mouth and ears, and mercy-givers and justice seekers. The apostle Paul put it like this:
"Now if the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don’t need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don’t need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." (1 Corinthians 12: 15-26)
Is there a part of the Body of Christ you need to make peace with today? Might you live with greater vitality and be better equipped to play the part God has called you to play if you did? Might that peace do the same for that scarred or opposite part?
Spoken Prayer: Father, open my eyes today to see where peace is needed in my relationship with Your Body. Help me to look past the scars and the weaknesses of that Body part and better perceive the role it plays in Your mission. Help me to even go beyond that and to find ways to support and shine a light on that part so it can thrive. Let Your peace rule in my heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.